Reality, and a few other facts


“What I used to think was me/is just a fading memory/I looked it straight in the eye, and said goodbye/I’m up above it …” ~ Nine Inch Nails

I don’t have much of a choice other than to renew myself, do I? My dog is dead, and my friend and flatmate has decided to seek her salvation on a different continent. Some people first ignore me, then they decide they just want to be friends, and then finally they come to the insight that even that is too much for them. Other people play cat-and-mouse to show me who needs whom the most. The rest of my acquaintances avoid me for a variety of reasons – I never go on weekend trips, religious differences, and perhaps simply because I’m not fun enough to hang out with. My TV is broken. My computer is broken. My bicycle is only half of what it was a year ago. My scooter has been dripping oil on the porch for almost a year. My water bills haven’t been paid in months, and my scooter registration has never been paid. My student loans are also still outstanding. My apartment smells like a shack in the woods. Insects fly and walk all over the place like they own the joint because I killed the only predator, a giant spider. I don’t currently enjoy any female companionship because most South African women here are strictly group-oriented, and I walk in and out of places on my own. And Taiwanese women find me too bizarre – even for a foreigner. The old geezer who owns the school in the countryside where I teach twice a week thinks I’m a lousy employee because I cancelled a one-hour class because the train was late by half an hour, and I don’t want to start the class half an hour later because that would mean I would have to wait 45 minutes for a train back home. And the principal at the other school fails to understand why I have to leave two minutes before the scheduled end of my class on Mondays and Fridays, despite the fact that the owner said it was okay to leave five minutes early. In about ten days I’m going to South Africa for three weeks, but it already feels as if I am going to look, feel, sound and act like a failure, until I get on a plane back to Taiwan. In the meantime, the insects would have taken over my apartment as a new ecological system, my bike will be a rusty pile of junk, everything will be wet outside, and damp inside because of all the rain, and I will have nobody to call and say I’m back, let’s go have a cup of coffee. My computer will still be broken, and if I buy a new computer my savings will run out much faster, in which case I will probably, if I’m lucky, again have to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to four-year-olds who either want to scream or sleep.

There – there’s the reality of my life on Tuesday, 17 June 2003 at 10:22 in the morning – at home, because the train to Number Nine Crooked Village was delayed by 35 minutes. However, my dishes are clean (for the first time since late April), and the washing machine is giving my bed sheets a final spin. A nap, therefore, sounds like an excellent plan.

(Finished napping, 12:05)

It’s just as well. You can’t start a new life if the old one is still kicking. I’ve tried it before, it doesn’t work.


What’s next? I don’t know. Anyway, isn’t it a bit like asking about the sex of the expected child if you’re not even pregnant yet?

Fact: Not everyone always needs to work for other people.

Bad news: At this stage of my life, I need to work for other people.

Good news: My life is not of such a nature that I need to be a slave to a rich man sixteen hours a day, seven days a week.

Fact: I do need to work for someone for a few hours every day (or five days a week) who will make money from my effort.

Fact: Since 1991 I’ve had an almost uninterrupted series of relationships with some or other employer (I counted about seventeen “bosses”).

Fact: I accept that.

Old fact: Establish yourself as an expert in some area and build up a professional reputation.

Thus, fact: Improve your chances of making money in a way that fits your personality and that keeps your interest by establishing yourself as an expert in an area in which you are interested, and by building a professional reputation in a market where what you deliver has commercial value.

Enough facts. Time for another poem:

I’m still wearing the clothes
of my former, discarded life
the same ass itching to go somewhere else
is still comfortably stuck to the same old chair